The amazing film by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement has been adapted into a TV series, but the question remains: Can it hold up against its predecessor?
Shot in the same Mockumentary format of the film, this show is about three vampires who live together in Staten Island: Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Nastasia Demetriou), and her boyfriend Laszlo (Matt Berry), along with Nandor’s familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) and energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Prosch). While the group maintains a relatively low profile, after a higher-ranking vampire Baron named Afanas (Doug Jones) comes to America to see them, they are told to work on expanding the power of the American vampires so that they can rule the world. If they don’t conquer America before he wakes up again, he’s going to kill them.
Alright, it might not be entirely fair to gauge the series by its pilot, since pilots often are subject to a lot of changes before the show gets picked up, but this show needs to avoid that. This pilot was excellent. It basically sets the tone for the series, and that tone is hilarious. Since it was made by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, it has almost all of the feel of the film, but at the same time expands upon the vampire lore and the world that the film created.
One of the things that made the film What We Do in the Shadows work was that all of the characters were so quirky and interesting, reflecting the fact that they are humans who have far outlived the worlds they were born in. This show picks that up directly, such as giving Nandor a backstory built around being an Ottoman Turk named Nandor the Relentless (a little derivative of Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), but not much). However, they also expand on it a bit by adding in the dynamics of having two of the characters in a relationship and having Colin, who no one likes, living in the house. Additionally, while Jackie (Jackie van Beek) played a relatively small role in the film as a familiar, Guillermo gets as much focus as the other characters, giving us a human to vicariously experience some of the eccentricities from an outsider perspective.
The writing in the pilot is extremely funny, particularly some of the interviews when they’re contrasted to the normal filming. The actors, particularly Matt Berry, are all excellent at comic delivery. I think one of my favorite moments is that, before turning into a bat, Laszlo just loudly shouts “BAT!” It’s so perfectly absurd that I just laughed out loud.
Overall, this show has a lot of promise. I think they’ve set up a lot of great plotlines that could be very funny and the idea of these incompetent vampires trying to take over the world is just inherently hilarious.
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